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Gorin Goho Gogyo

The Meaning of 岩波 (iwanami)

岩波 Iwanami (pronounced ee waa naa mee) translates literally as rock wave. The meaning, however, has more depth. Iwanami is the action of waves crashing against rocks. Seemingly, the rocks are unaffected by the waves.

However, the waves over time (a great deal of time) slowly erode the rock. It is this idea, the constant action of the waves slowly moving the seemingly immovable rock, which we endeavor to personify.

The waves are analogous to practicing Shinkendo and the rock analogous to fully comprehending Shinkendo. If one practices Shinkendo diligently, one can erode the barriers to fully understanding Shinkendo.

Traditional Japanese Swordsmanship

Shinkendo is comprised of five distinct elements, referred to as the Gorin Goho Gogyo. These elements are:


    - Isolating and practicing the basics of ken sabaki (sword movement), tai sabaki (body movement), ashi sabaki (foot movement), and toho jussinho (the basic ten sword methods).


    - Solo forms simultaneously utilizing multiple aspects of suburi with complimentary movements.


    - Like tanrengata with an emphasis on powerful and efficient cuts from the draw. Drawing and sheathing is practiced in all directions.


    - Paired sparring forms that develop the practitioner's coordination and ability to harmonize with an opponent. Specifically the practitioner develops awase (timing), maai (distance to target), hohaba (balance), rhythm, and kiai.


    - Test cutting with a live blade (a shinken). Typical target materials include tatami omote and bamboo (either Nihondake or Mosodake - - Japanese or Chinese Bamboo). Tameshigiri offers practical insight into principles such as hasuji (edge angles), tachisuji (sword swing-angles), and tenouchi (grip).

    (Paraphrased from Obata, 1999)

These five elements form a comprehensive curriculum that, when practiced with sincerity and commitment, interweave to form a style of swordsmanship that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Shinkendo students begin training with a wooden sword called a bokuto, and as their skill level and control of the blade progress they will advance to training with an iaito (or mogito, an unsharpened blade).  Given sufficient time and ability, students eventually learn to use a shinken (live blade).

In addition to being a licensed ISF dojo, we are also a member dojo of the Kokusai Toyama Ryu Renmei, established by Shinkendo founder Toshishiro Obata


Obata, T., 1999, Shinkendo: Japanese Swordsmanship, International Shinkendo Federation, p. 29.

Scott, N., 1998, Written transmission.


The International Shinkendo Federation is an organization dedicated to teaching authentic Japanese swordsmanship. Shinkendo emphasizes traditional and effective swordsmanship, which, with serious training, leads to both practical ability as well as an understanding of classical martial arts. It is steeped in the traditions of the Samurai, such as Heiho (strategy), physical training, and proper Bushido etiquette and philosophy (Scott, 1998).

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